What is the value of a friend? C.H. Spurgeon stated, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” A friend carries the load when you are unable to take one step.
Luke writes of a man who might have missed his healing without the determination of his friends to literally carry him. Four men bring their paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is, but can’t get through that mass of people. Determined, they climb to the roof of the house by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up, and observes the pallet being lowered. What does he see? He sees the faces of four men filled with stark hungering need for their friend’s healing. But He also sees great faith revealed in their faces. Jesus looks at the paralytic and announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” To show the Pharisees that He has the power to forgive sin, Jesus tells the man on the mat, “Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:16-24)!
In Proverbs Solomon lists three strong values found in a good friend. He loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17); he is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); he never forsakes his friend (27:10). The example of the paralytic in Luke supports Solomon’s observations. He received constant love from his friends. He was closer than a brother, and his friends did not forsake him. They believed in his healing and did what they could to help him. Maybe the paralytic was embarrassed to be the center of attention. Perhaps he asked them not to cut a hole in the roof. Or maybe because he was unable to do anything for himself he was relying upon his friends. What can we deduce about friendship from this example of the four friends’ commitment? No matter what your friend’s belief or lack of belief, you believe in the very best for him. True friendship does whatever is necessary to bring about the promise but does not sacrifice the heart of his friend.
I once discovered a simple statement that shows the value of a friend. “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”